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Fueled by #metoo and a year of Trump, Women's March returns with an eye toward November

'Our voice is our strength'
Posted at 11:36 PM, Jan 19, 2018

CINCINNATI -- On Jan. 20, 2017, hundreds of thousands of Trump supporters packed the National Mall to cheer his inauguration and hear him pledge to end what he called the "American carnage" of the previous administration.

The next day, millions across the globe answered with a pledge of their own: Resist. The Women's March of 2017 and inspired sister events worldwide. Some were directed explicitly at Trump; others instead focused on international women's issues such as education and reproductive choice. Globally, the New York Times estimated participants numbered around five million.

Fourteen thousand of those participants were in Washington Park Jan. 21, wearing pink knitted hats, wielding signs with images of Princess Leia and Rosie the Riveter, chants such as "Love trumps hate!" and "This is what democracy looks like!" rising as steam into the chilly air. 

A year on, Women's March organizer Andria Carter said she hopes a follow-up march on Saturday will harness that passion again and guide it into the voting booth. Same place, same time, same cause. New laser-sharp focus. Slightly better weather.

"We are going to commemorate that march but also build up from that and what has happened over this past year," Carter said Friday. "We still need to speak out … especially on women's issues because obviously the politicians don't remember they have women in their lives."

The 2018 Women's March theme is "Hear Our Vote," Carter said. It will focus on ensuring its participants are empowered to vote (or run) in November and prepared to act for women's equality past that date. 

The #metoo movement that emerged at the tail end of 2017 provides extra incentive, she added, to think about women's issues not only on a legislative level but an interpersonal and social one as well. Achieving a truly equal society will require changing the way its denizens think about sex, gender and consent.

Xavier freshman and Women's March participant Elizabeth Deutsch said she believes #metoo has helped shift the cultural tide toward one that values women's personal, political and bodily autonomy.

"There's so much coming out in the media lately about respect toward women (and) respect toward our bodies," she said. "We need to back each other up because everyone is going through something, and together we can get through it. We can overcome."

That doesn't mean the movement has reached the downhill side of its struggle, Carter said. The president spoke to the March for Life Friday, highlighting a year of anti-abortion policies; activists who seek expanded reproductive rights are still walking uphill.

But they could be nearing the top, Carter said.

"I think it's getting better for women because we're not being quiet anymore," she said. "Our voice is our strength."